Drone Accidents


Drone Accidents: The new danger from above.

Drones are among the hottest new pieces of tech to come out over the last several years. What started as a way for the military utilized to lower the cost of war and protect our troops has morphed into something that has a wide range of different uses.  Amazon is planning to use them for same day delivery at different places in the USA.  Rangers in Africa use them to help track down poachers to prevent the killing of endangered species.

The majority use drones for entertainment, whether it's to take photos from a different perspective, or just wanting to fly it around for fun. Whatever it is, there are a lot more drone related accidents as most people are just learning how to fly them.

Drones can reach the speed of a 140 mph and go as high as 5000 feet in the air! Imagine getting hit walking down the road by one going over a 100 miles per hour. It doesn't take long to realize the damage that could ensue. It also makes it dangerous for the people around the drones. Because the propellers spin so fast, there is a risk of slicing someone's skin. There are also incidents of drones suddenly malfunctioning and falling out of the sky.

This can prove hazardous for whoever ends up being underneath the falling drone! While more and more people purchase drones, the legal framework is struggling to keep up with how to regulate them. Because this is new and evolving technology, new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations governing drones are evolving constantly.

Drone accidents are steadily going up. According to a report dated from August 21st, 2015-January 31st, 2016 there were “three times as many incidents as the same period of the previous year.” In 24 of those incidents, drones flew within 50 feet of a manned aircraft forcing evasive maneuvers in 11 to avoid the drone.

So, while this new technology is quickly finding it's way into our everyday lives. Drone accidents are going up and will continue to do so as people find new ways to use them. Because this is new and evolving technology, new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations governing drones are evolving constantly. 

Recreational Drone Regulations

The FAA guidelines on drone recreational use:

  • register your drone, mark it on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you.
  • Never fly the drone above 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace.
  • Never fly over any person or moving vehicle.
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Don't fly at night unless your drone has lighting that allows you to know its location and orientation at all times.
  • Don't operate your drone in a careless or reckless manner.

There are various state laws in addition to the FAA guidelines.  Violating these rules may increase the chance that someone will get hurt in a drone-related incident and definitely makes it more likely that the drone operator will be found negligent.

Are there reporting requirements with drones?

If you crashed a drone, there are reporting requirements. Below we will discuss the reporting requirements you make to the FAA and the reporting requirements you make to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) following a drone crash.

  • You can contact the NTSB's 24-hour Response Operations Center (ROC) at 844-373-9922 to file a report. A phone call is sufficient initially, but a written follow-up may be required.
    • DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, WV, and VA 404-305-5150
    • AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, MA,ME,MS, NC, NH, PR, RI, SC, TN, VI, and VT 404-305-5156
    • AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP,MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY 425-227-1999
    • AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI,MN,MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TX, and WI 817-222-5006
  • The FAA also has a website  known as the drone zone where you can report crashes and do much more.

What should I do after a drone hits me or a loved one?

The steps one should take after a drone accident are similar to a car crash with a couple drone-specific wrinkles:

  • If possible, write down the name, contact information, and insurance information of the drone operator, as well as their drone's registration number.
  • Write down the name and contact information of any witnesses who saw the incident.
  • Document the scene and your injuries with videos and photos.
  • Seek medical attention and follow all doctor's orders.
  • Keep track of all expenses related to the incident, and retain receipts.
  • Contact a drone accident lawyer who can tell you if you are entitled to compensation.

Depending on the nature of your injury or property damage, you may also need to contact your insurance company. But be sure to speak with an attorney and  Betz and Baril has the experience and knowledge to help you secure the money you deserve, as the insurance company may not have your best interests at heart.

Who is Liable in a Drone Accident?

Drone accident Liability depends on several factors. If a couple hires someone to take aerial photography of their wedding, and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) injures their guests, someone will ultimately be held responsible for their injuries. Other things to consider:

  1. was the drone accident because of operator error,
  2. was the drone crash because a product defect,
  3. was the drone wreck because person that got hit somewhere they were not allowed to be,
  4. who was at fault and why for the drone accident.

Hospitals will not accept “accidents happen” as a form of payment and too many Americans do not have health insurance and the cases where someone's health Insurance has to cover an accident will want reimbursement through the at-fault party known as subrogation.

Injuries Caused by Drones

Any new technology is bound to encounter a few bumps as manufacturers respond to real-life scenarios. But, consumers shouldn't have to serve as manufacturers' guinea pigs while faulty drone technology causes injuries and property damage. Individuals who have been injured or who suffered other damages caused by a drone may be able to file a lawsuit against the operator or manufacturer. 

Researchers at Virginia Tech are studying the injuries caused by drones. Using crash test dummies, they recorded the impact of a head-on drone collision. With average-sized smaller drones, they reported the risk of severe neck injury was less than 10%. But, for the largest drones, the risk rose to 70%.

In some areas of the country, crashing drones have caused serious injury. In Pasadena, an 11-month old child was injured while her mother pushed her in a stroller when a drone slammed into the ground near them, sending sharp pieces into the child's face and head.

In Southern California, an out-of-control drone crashed at an outdoor movie screening, injuring a young girl. A child in England lost sight in one eye when the propeller from an out-of-control drone sliced his eye. As more and more drones hit the air then the ground unexpectedly more and more of these will occur.

Professional baseball player Trevor Bauer showed a stadium of baseball fans how serious drone injuries can be. He received 10 stitches to his pinky when one of his drone's propellers unexpectedly started while he was working on it. The finger split open during the first inning of a 2016 playoffs game, forcing him to sit out. 

The most famous drone crashing news was in 2015 when a drone landed in the lawn of the White House. Apparently, an operator under the influence of alcohol was operating the drone.

If you have been injured by a drone call experienced drone accident attorneys, Betz and Baril and get 100% or more compensation than you deserve.

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Betz and Baril are attorneys dedicated to providing you with the best legal services possible. We understand that your situation may be tough, but that is why you need a team like ours, who truly care about helping you to receive the compensation you deserve, so you can get back to living your life. You shouldn’t have to suffer from injuries due to someone else’s negligence. If you’ve been injured from faulty medical devices, faulty medicine, or you’ve been injured in a car or truck accident, we are here to help. Schedule a FREE Consultation

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